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Motivation Articles  ›  Staying Motivated

Moderation in All Things

How to Avoid the Diet Blues

-- By Dean Anderson, Behavioral Psychology Expert
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Sounds simple, right?

Like many things, it's not quite as easy as it sounds. Chances are…you want results quickly. And you probably know that your current routine is problematic in one or more ways—too much fast food, sugar, or fat and not enough physical activity. Your natural inclination is going to be making big, sweeping changes to your diet and activity level right away.

In short, everything in you is clamoring for a very anti-moderate approach. You’re primed to play the extreme diet game, even though your odds of winning are less than five percent.

Moderate Your Thinking
 
To rescue yourself from your own impatience (and the clutches of the diet industry that feeds on it), you need to moderate your thinking. Here are two core concepts that will help you do that:

Concept #1: Food is not the enemy. There are no "good" or "bad" foods. True, some foods offer you a better nutritional deal than others. Refined sugar, for example, provides calories for energy but no other nutrients, while fruit is sweet but also provides vitamins and fiber in a low-calorie package. But refined sugar isn't evil or bad—it can have a place in a healthy diet. It's important to know what you need nutritionally and where you can find it, so you can take charge of balancing your needs for pleasure, nutrition, and fuel.

The Payoff: When you stop labeling foods as good or bad, diet or non-diet, you won't feel guilty when you eat a food that isn't on your "approved" list. Instead you'll have more energy to learn about nutrition and improve your ability to make informed choices. And you won't have to give up your favorite treats if you find ways to work them into your meal plans so they don’t interfere with your health goals. Without the guilt and deprivation, you’ll be able to break the pattern of cravings, emotional swings, and binges that defeats so many diets. Without all those "diet" rules to follow, you’ll learn to trust your own instincts and make good judgments.

Concept #2: Progress—not perfection—is important. To be successful, you don't have to always make perfect decisions and have perfect days where things go exactly as you planned. If you eat more or exercise less than you wanted to one day, you can make up for it over the next several days if you want, or you can just chalk it up to experience and move on. Remind yourself that what happens on any one day is not going to make or break your whole effort. This is not a contest or a race, where every little misstep could mean the difference between winning and losing. It’s your life—and you’ll enjoy it a lot more when you can keep the daily ups and downs of your eating and exercise routine in perspective.
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About The Author

Dean Anderson Dean Anderson
Dean Anderson has master's degrees in human services (behavioral psychology/stress management) and liberal studies. His interest in healthy living began at the age of 50 when he confronted his own morbid obesity and health issues. He joined SparkPeople and lost 150 pounds and regained his health. Dean has earned a personal training certification from ACE and received training as a lifestyle and weight management consultant. See all of Dean's articles.

Member Comments

  • about the same percentage of people who attempt to eat everything in moderation also will gain weight back. This proves that making a lifestyle change is difficult no matter what path you follow. - 3/13/2014 3:51:43 PM
  • Having lost 100 pounds, I'm more convinced than ever that this is true. Tonight I plan on going out for dinner for my husband's birthday and I may have a dessert. I haven't had one for a long time, and I'm going to enjoy it, and tomorrow when I wake up I will go right back to my regular habits. The all-or-nothing mindset just does not work for most people. - 3/11/2014 5:38:16 PM
  • It sounds great, but sugar and grain turn to glucose. I for one cannot eat sugar in moderation. I tried for 30 years. Only after eliminating grain and sugar have I controlled my binge eating.

    I may be an exception but effective weight control depends a great deal on learning what is right for your own body. - 2/5/2014 4:03:10 PM
  • I do not buy candy bars, I buy Herseys Kisses instead, for some reason I am better at managing that than a candy bar. I also do not buy 6-packs of yogurt. For me, buy a bar of candy, eat a bar of candy, no matter how small or big. The same problem with yogurt, buy a 6 pack,...: -( I spend more money the way do it, but I know these are my down falls, oddly I am not that fond of chocolate. - 12/25/2013 1:04:21 PM
  • On Friday and Saturday I have a problem on eating the right things. That's at night. Not alot but just to take the edge off. - 10/31/2013 7:45:30 PM
  • BETTYCOOPER121
    i really liked this article. it is actually very difficult to give up favorite foods but yes we should try hard. - 10/16/2013 7:26:17 PM
  • For a sugar addict, it's next to impossible to eat a moderate amount of sugar. It's the equivalent of telling an alcoholic to stop after one drink. - 7/24/2013 7:00:53 AM
  • KAYEROWELL1
    I do agree with you on that. Moderation with everything is the key to a good diet plan. However, it sometimes takes a lot of self discipline to stop eating. I know this from experience. It is a good thing that Prescopodene helped me address this concern apart from boosting my metabolism. I'm so happy with the 15kgs I lost that I recommended this to my friend. :) - 6/21/2013 10:42:27 PM
  • FITNESS386
    Eating everything in moderation is definitely the downfall. Trigger foods will nonetheless trigger people to gain weight because most people will not know when to stop. - 6/4/2013 5:44:13 PM
  • LOVE this article. I have taken some of the quotes and put up for visual encouragements. REFUSE TO BE A PERFECTONIST - 2/21/2013 4:30:36 PM
  • I'm not sure why but I am very easily swayed ...... if it's almost lunch and I'm undecided what I'm going to eat...... and the next commercial is pizza..... I want that! it the one following that is burger king.......hmmmmm
    mm well maybe that? - 1/12/2013 10:50:51 PM
  • I agree with the idea that when one thinks of "diet" it is usually something someone does for a short time and then quits. However, diet should really be thought of as what one eats. If I choose to eat according to the SAD way of eating, but only do so in moderation, will that free me from the health consequence of eating food-like substances?

    To say that refined sugar is not bad, causes me to wonder who is in Spark People's back pocket. It would be my guess that we will start seeing ads for Crystal sugar soon. I think too much emphasis is placed on the macronutrients and not enough on the micronutrients.

    According to this article I an eat:
    Breakfast: 1 donut instead of 3
    Lunch:
    12 ounces of soda instead of 24
    regular-size chicken nuggets and french fries instead of the upgrade
    Dinner:
    2 slices of Pizza instead of the whole pie

    As long as I eat in moderation, everything (my weight and health) should be fine. Hmmmmmph!

    http://www.drmc
    dougall.com/r
    es_whi_report.html - 10/22/2012 12:27:14 PM
  • I haven't read all the comments, but I've seen some, and I already agree with people like GRACEMCDOG, ALYSSADANNIELE, and HAZYSKIES. Some foods, particularly things with added sugars and wheat, are incredibly addicting for me and detrimental to my health as well. Cutting them out COMPLETELY is the best thing I can do for my health. - 10/19/2012 10:33:29 AM
  • 'Moderation - a commitment to balance and wholeness'. My partner stresses to me frequently that my plan for better health should be moderation....so I will make it a lifetime process not a means to an end...like dieting,etc. This article was really good. I am an 'all or nothing' type of person who needs to change my thinking. - 10/3/2012 2:39:16 PM
  • I didn't read all the comments so I don't know if I am repeating someone else's post but I want to give a shout out to my mentor, the king of moderation, Reinhard Engels, the author of the No S Diet. He tried to get the publisher to allow him to call it the No S Lifestyle because it is REALLY not a diet. I know lots of plans claim that but his is the closest, I''d say. But the publisher said no, there's just too much money in diet books. His never became a bestseller and he didn't expect it because he did not promise fast weight loss, nor ease, nor lack of hunger, etc. No introductory phases. Just guidelines tested by whole cultures, thin cultures, guidelines for consistent moderate eating year in and year out. And moderate goals, too, not stick thin skinniness. I'm still working on implementing the fitness part but the eating part is still going strong. - 8/12/2012 11:56:46 PM